Motivation vs. Discipline

by: Medi Woldemichael, Manning School of Business Well-being Leader,

What is “Motivation”? It is the general desire or willingness of someone to do something. Take a moment and ask yourself, “Am I always motivated?” or “When do I lack motivation?” Motivation is a powerful, yet delicate feeling that is good at playing games with us. It will sometimes appear as an energetic and enthusiastic friend. Other times, you’ll catch yourself in a pit of laziness that echoes procrastination. When something around us motivates us to make a change in the early stages, we are encouraged to take on the task. However, at some point, that motivation may fade.

I used to think that motivation was the most crucial factor in accomplishing my goals and achieving success in different areas of my life, and many of you might still feel like that. However, from experience, I know discipline is essential for achieving goals, not just motivation. When we set goals for our lives, we might not always be able to rely on that motivation to stimulate our effort consistently for an extended time; that’s where self-discipline comes in. Self-discipline will help us in deciding to resist daily temptations that may stop us from progressing toward our goals. In a world where motivating advice and resources are readily available, it becomes evident [MHM1] [WS2] [MHM3] that motivation alone is insufficient to result in achievement and achieve goals, or else everyone would be achieving their goals. That’s why we must choose Discipline on top of Motivation.

Motivation is the starting point. It excites emotions, ideas, inspiration, and excitement, which are wonderful and important! Yet some people stop there. We stop ourselves when we think, “I just need to get motivated,” but it requires more. To be successful in any area of our lives, we must move from motivating feelings to disciplined acts.

To the person who wants to be fit – be disciplined to continue that weekly routine of exercise and quality diet choices.

To the person who wants to start that business – be disciplined to do the research, planning, and journey step by step.

To the person who wants to be in a better financial position – be disciplined to make wiser decisions by spending less, investing, and saving more.

To the person who wants to step into their desired career – be disciplined to do the studying, gaining experience, and hard yards required to get there.

To the person writing that book – be disciplined to write daily and stick to your word-count goals.

Maintaining discipline through everyday routines and habits may appear tedious, yet you grow one step forward each day. You’ll be surprised at how quickly discipline spreads to other aspects of your life after you apply it to just one!